Tri States Public Radio Staff
Fri July 8, 2011
Emphasis - July 8
Fort Madison, IA – Jason Parrott's guest is Rebecca Bowker, who is Executive Officer with the Iowa State Penitentiary.
They discuss the new maximum security prison being built in Fort Madison.
The current Iowa State Penitentiary has stood in Lee County for nearly 175 years.
The escape of two inmates in 2005 led the state to move ahead with the construction of the new prison along County Road X-38.
Bowker says after months of groundwork, people can now see the new facility taking shape.
She says pre-cast cell walls, which are being built in West Burlington, will continue to go up for the next 4-5 weeks.
A public meeting was recently held to update neighbors and other interested parties about the new facility.
Bowker says noise and light pollution should not be a problem.
She says a special system will be used that shines light directly in a specific area, without lighting up the surrounding area.
Bowker says local contractors are handling all of the current work at the facility.
She says once the complex is completed, an additional 150 employees will be needed. How quickly they are hired, though, depends on state funding.
Bowker says the new Iowa State Penitentiary will feature a double chain-link fence surrounding 48 acres, which is a major change from the giant stone tower blocking a portion of the roughly 12 acre area.
Bowker says the new maximum security prison should be completed by December 2012.
She says at that point, staff will undergo several months of training before the inmates are moved to the new facility.